The University calls for limited activities before fall break

A+pair+of+students+walk+on+the+Main+Quad+on+Oct.+18%2C+2019.+The+University+recently+released+guidelines+to+help+prevent+the+spread+of+COVID-19+during+Thanksgiving+break.

Kevin Gao

A pair of students walk on the Main Quad on Oct. 18, 2019. The University recently released guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Thanksgiving break.

By Willie Cui, Staff Writer

In response to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases on campus, the University announced new guidelines on Friday that students should follow in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

From Nov. 6 through Nov. 20, students who are planning to travel during fall break should limit themselves to only essential activities “such as attending in-person class, testing, visiting the pharmacy and buying groceries,” said Chancellor Jones in a Massmail.

Moreover, students who travel away from the Champaign-Urbana area during fall break should not return to campus until the beginning of spring semester. Upon returning, students must also take a COVID-19 test as soon as possible and self-isolate until they receive their results.

Jones reminded students to continue taking their required COVID-19 tests, and that they must comply with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District when asked. He also urged students to refrain from hosting or attending parties, noting that parties spread COVID-19. 

“For everyone’s sake, please do not hold or attend parties,” Jones said.

In a rebuke that harkens back to the initial surge of COVID-19 cases in early September, Chancellor Jones admonished those who failed to follow the University’s social distancing, mask-wearing and testing guidelines.

“By not consistently wearing masks, minimizing social gatherings, properly washing hands and getting tested, your peers’ actions have led to a concerning and rapid increase in the number of new undergraduate COVID-19 positive cases,” Jones said.

He also noted that the seven-day positivity rate for the University rose from 0.12% in October to 0.57% by Friday.

“In two of the first three days of this week, we had more than 80 new cases,” said Jones. “This is the first time that has happened since Labor Day.”

Jones urged students to begin taking precautions now in order to minimize COVID-19 transmission over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Protect your friends, family and community by making safe decisions,” he said. “If we do not address this on-campus trend right now, we will be forced to take more extreme measures before fall break.”

“Cases are coming up when small groups — even family, households, friends — are getting together for dinner or small gatherings indoors,” said Awais Vaid, epidemiologist for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

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